COP27 – The hard stance on Climate Reparations
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The world’s leaders have descended upon the COP27 climate talks in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. COP is the United Nations Climate Change conference, hosted throughout the world for the last twenty seven years. It is used by governments to negotiate and discuss limiting global temperatures and adapting to the effects of climate change. 190 countries are in attendance with 35,000 representatives.
Negotiators from both wealthy and developing countries prepared for many days of battles to discuss reparations for the climate disasters that developing countries have faced at the expense of wealthier nations. In other words, countries that have suffered the most economically as a consequence of natural disasters want payments from countries that have contributed most to climate change.
Those who believed that climate reparations wouldn’t enter mainstream debate, have been proven wrong in Egypt. One-hundred-thirty developing nations are calling for a special fund to “assist developing countries in meeting their costs of addressing non-economic and economic loss and damage,” caused by extreme weather disasters and rising sea levels.
Now that the effects of human life on the climate are apparent, developing nations have strong claims to accuse well-developed countries of playing a significant role.
The top 10% of earners in developed countries are responsible for more than 50% of the total carbon footprint. And when you think about the effects of climate change in developing countries, that stat becomes even more significant – the GDP of developing countries suffers a loss of 15-40% annually because of climate-related disasters! Countries that have historically polluted and contributed the least to climate change are hit hardest by its effects.
It seems only fair, they argue, that the countries that have burned fossil fuels to grow their economies invest some of those profits back into the growth of developing countries.
Much of the hesitation from wealthier nations like the United States and the European Union is rooted in the fear that setting up a financial facility could leave them and other nations legally exposed to additional compensation demands. But while that may be true, investment in clean energy infrastructure in developing countries could significantly curb the worst effects of climate change.
The good news is that while wealthier nations have burned fossil fuels to drive growth, the energy sources available today can be cleaner and more advanced than our traditional ways. Funds from climate reparations could be used to leverage newer technologies that will improve infrastructure and industry to grow the economies of developing countries in more sustainable ways. These countries can leapfrog years of unsustainable methods of growth to grow their economies and pull their populations out of poverty in ways much less devastating than before.
The world cannot expect developing countries to limit growth for the sake of future generations while their generations today still live in poverty.
Developing countries are not only negotiating climate reparations to address the injustices of the past but, perhaps more importantly, to address the still-needed growth of the future.
Editor’s Note: Since the publishing of this blog, wealthier nations that include the US and the EU have agreed to setting up a climate fund to help vulnerable countries in the face of climate disasters, the first time an agreement like this has been reached in nearly three decades. The details are still to be determined, but this serves as a significant milestone for negotiators at the COP27 Climate Summit.